Extreme haunted house: inside the real life kingdom of masochists

On a balmy California morning, three daredevils park in front of an elementary school and lean against their cars, trying to appear nonchalant as they wait to be kidnapped. They’re the guests of McKamey Manor, an interactive “extreme haunt” which has a cult-like devotion online.

The kidnappers are up the road in the manor, a grand name for a San Diego suburban house smelling of dog pee. They’re busy applying finishing touches to their outfits. Andrew Sweeney, 6ft5in and with a beard thick as a shoebrush, puts on a tattered shirt splattered with red and a fabric bag with eye-holes over his head. He looks like a demonic lumberjack.

“I’m not going to lie,” he says from inside the hood. “I go hard on the big guys…”